5 Aug 2020 14:48

Convicted spy Whelan arrives at penal colony in Mordovia - Public Monitoring Commission head

SARANSK. Aug 5 (Interfax) - U.S. citizen Paul Whelan, who has been sentenced to 16 years in prison in Russia on counts of espionage, arrived at a penal colony in Mordovia on Wednesday to serve his time, head of the Mordovian Public Monitoring Commission Valery Krutov told Interfax.

"Whelan has arrived at Penal Colony No. 18," Krutov said.

Krutov said Whelan will spend two weeks in quarantine before being moved to Penitentiary No. 17 in the Zubovo-Polyansky district of Mordovia.

Whelan's brother David said on August 4 that Paul would be transferred to a penitentiary in Mordovia to serve his time for spying.

"The UK Embassy spoke with someone at the Federal Penitentiary System today who confirmed that Paul had arrived in the Republic of Mordovia last Saturday, August 1. Despite reports that the prison monitors saw him in Lefortovo last Wednesday, we aren't sure when he left. We understand that it can often take prisoners weeks to reach a camp on the prison train. According to the FSIN representative, Paul will be quarantined for 20 days in camp IK-18 and then moved to his permanent camp, IK-17," David Whelan said.

Paul Whelan's defense lawyer later confirmed that the American had been transferred to a prison to begin serving his sentence.

Krutov told Interfax he would visit Whelan only if "a complaint is filed by him, his lawyers, or his family with the commission."

The Moscow City Court sentenced Whelan, who is also a citizen of Ireland, Canada, and the United Kingdom, to 16 years in a high-security penitentiary on counts of espionage on June 15.

Whelan pleaded not guilty, but decided against appealing his sentence, as he hopes to be exchanged.

Whelan's sentence took effect on July 3.

A source told Interfax earlier that Moscow and Washington were actively discussing the possibility of exchanging Whelan for Russian citizens Konstantin Yaroshenko and Viktor Bout, incarcerated in the United States, by means of their pardon by the two presidents.